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A refuge from all of life's tortures, pains and sufferings.

October 7th, 2011

Pagkatapos kong basahin ang ulat na inihandog sa Pundasyong Wikimedia para sa kasaysayan ng Tagalog Wikipedia (ang WikiHistories kumbaga) dito sa napakagandang lungsod ng Warsaw (Barsobya) sa Polonya, nararapat lang na magsulat ako ng ilang mga pananaw at tugon sa kung paano naabot ng Tagalog Wikipedia ang kinaluluklukan nito ngayon.

Una kong nahanap ang Tagalog Wikipedia noong Hunyo 2005, kung saan dalawang buwan pa lang ako sa Wikipedia at kababalik ko lang sa Pilipinas noong nakaraang buwan.  Natatandaan ko pa na ginamit ko pa ang Ingles sa aking guro sa Filipino (!) upang ma
ipahiwatig sa kaniya na nahanap ko ang proyekto at nais kong gamitin ito upang payamanin ang aking bokabularyo at palawakin ang aking pag-unawa sa wikang pambansa.  Sa pag-sali ko sa Tagalog Wikipedia noon, natatandaan ko pa rin ang dati nitong simoy: maluwag, magaan at, higit sa lahat, maka-Taglish.  Mahalaga sa akin ang wika, at nararapat lang na dahil bumalik ako sa Pilipinas, dapat lang na paunlarin ko ang aking kaalaman sa wika ng nakararami doon.  Lalo nang hindi ito Ingles, kundi Filipino.

O kaya, sa pananaw ng Komite sa mga Wika (Language Committee) ng Pundasyong Wikimedia, Tagalog.

Bakit kaya sumali ako sa (Tagalog) Wikipedia?  Sumali ako sa Wikipedia dahil nararapat lang na ako ay Pilipino.  Ngunit kahit kung masasabi ko pa na ako ay Pilipino, ako ay naging dayuhan sa aking bayang pinagmulan dahil lamang sa aking pag-laki sa Estados Unidos nang napakatagal.  Hindi ko pinaghihinayang ang aking paglaki sa Estados Unidos: samakatuwid, ito ay isa sa mga pinakamasayang panahon para sa akin, at kung hindi ako nanirahan doon, baka pa nga hindi ko mahahanap ang Wikipedia, kung saan doon ko unang natuklasan.  Gayunpaman, naisip ko na mahalaga ang wika sa pag-unawa ng aking sariling bayan, at nararapat lang na sa panahon na ako ay magiging patnugot sa Tagalog Wikipedia, dapat lang na pag-aralan ko ang wikang ginagamit nila.

Hindi ko pala napag-isipan na ito ay magdudulot ng napakalaking pagbabago, hindi lang sa aking pagkatao, kundi rin sa buong pilosopiya ng Tagalog Wikipedia at ang pananaw nito sa wika.

Noong una akong sumali sa Tagalog Wikipedia, maaari mong sabihin na sumang-ayon ako sa wika ng kalsada, tulad sa pagturing ni James Soriano (crazy4this_girl</lj>, na aking kaibigan) sa wikang Filipino sa kaniyang mga (kontrobersiyal) na lathalain tungkol sa wika at ang relasyon ng wikang Filipino sa sambayanang Pilipino.  Hindi ko pala namalayan na ang salita para sa "file" (hal. papeles, o maaari rin ang kapilas nito sa kompyuter) ay "talaksan", o kaya ang "keyboard" (sa kompyuter, o kaya rin ang instrumento) ay "tipaan".  Naniwala ako noong sumali ako sa "puripikasyon" ng Tagalog Wikipedia na nararapat lang na dahil ginagamit ang Wikipedia para sa pag-aaral at pagtuturo ng wika sa mga mag-aaral, lalo na sa mga taong tulad ko na hindi marunong mag-Tagalog (o mag-Filipino), nararapat lang na ang Tagalog Wikipedia ang manguna sa pagpupursigi nito: na maging dalubhasa sa wikang katutubo, na kaakibat din ang paglawak ng kaalaman ng tao sa lahat ng mga larangan na kinasasakupan ng ensiklopedya (na sa kasong ito ay Wikipedia, bilang natatanging ensiklopedya sa wikang Tagalog/Filipino).

At ngayon, masasabi ko na sa lahat na marunong na ako mag-Tagalog (o mag-Filipino).  At napakalaki ang tulong ng Wikipedia sa pag-abot nito, dahil kung hindi ako nakapag-asa sa Wikipedia, baka naging "ispokening dollar" ako, konyo man o hindi.

Gayunpaman, hindi ibig sabihin niyon na ako ay purista.  Hindi ako naniniwala na ako ay purista sa debate ukol sa mga hangganan ng Tagalog at Filipino, at hindi ako naniniwala na dapat ibalik ang mga salita tulad ng "salumpuwit" sa karaniwang diskurso. (Subali't naniniwala ako na maaaring hiramin ang mga salitang "nilikha" ng kasalukuyang Pamantasang De La Salle Araneta, ang dating GAUF, tulad ng "salipawpaw", na ginagamit ng Hukbong Himpapawid, para sa "aircraft", habang ang "eroplano" naman ay para sa "airplane".)

Naniwala ako mula sa simula ng aking pag-sali sa Tagalog Wikipedia na dapat balansehin ang purismo at ang tinawag kong "Pilipinismo".  Sa aking pagtalakay sa ulat, kailangan din nating itanong kung bakit sinabi ni Virgilio S. Almario (na aking kinagagalangan bilang pangunahing patnugot sa UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino at bilang isang makata) na dapat ang "file" ay manatiling "file" (o kaya, sa Cebuano, "payl"), o ang "home" ay dapat ding "home".  Ayon sa papel kong "A Need, A Want, A Calling: Fixing the Issues of Philippine Language Policy", na naging sakop din ng aking presentasyon na "May Kalagitnaan Ba ang Wika?  Isang Pagsusuri sa mga Patakarang Pangwika ng Wikipediang Tagalog" noong Wikimania sa Haifa ngayong Agosto, kailangan nating balikan ang kasaysayan upang tingnan kung saan dumating ngayon ang wika.  Bakit kaya sinabi noon ni Rolando S. Tinio na ang konsepto ng "malalim na wika" ay ginagamit lamang ng mga bobo (o kaya ng mga nagpapakabobo) upang ipahiwatig ang kanilang pagkainis sa paggamit ng ating wikang pambansa?

Bakit kaya hanggang ngayon, klasipikado ng SIL International ang Filipino bilang deribasyon o "baryant" ng Tagalog kahit kung ipinaglaban ito ng mga Pilipinista na hiwalay ito sa Tagalog, at sa basehang iyon hindi pinapahintulutan ng Pundasyong Wikimedia ang paglikha ng hiwalay na Wikipedia sa Filipino?

Bakit kaya palpak ang pagtupad ng mandato ng Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino na palawakin at paganahin ang wikang Filipino, na siya'y naging produkto niya, ngunit ang nangunguna sa pag-unlad nito ay ang UP at La Salle? (Pasensiya na po sa Ateneo: hindi pa tayo nakapaglimbag ng diksiyonaryo.)

Natakot ako sa taong dating nagsabi sa akin na "ang bagong Filipino ay Taglish".  Bakit kaya ang ating mga kapatid sa Malaysia at Indonesya ay may karapatang gumamit ng kanilang wika na hindi palaasa sa Ingles o sa Olandes para ipakita ang mga teknikal o maka-agham na konsepto, at ang Pilipinas hindi?  Hindi ba na nararapat lang na mayroon tayong mapagbabatayan na wikang umaayon sa umiiral na kilos, ngunit may paggalang din sa mayamang kasaysayan ng ating mga wika?

Nararapat bang balewalain ito para lang sa "kaginhawaan" at "kumbiniyensiya" ng kasalukuyang Pilipino?  Kung gayon ang ating pananaw, nagluluksa ako sa pagkawala ng ating wika sa kamay ng Taglish: isang "mala-wika" na walang matigas na tuntunin sa kung paano dapat gamitin ito, at kung saan ito ang nagiging batayan ng wikang Filipino ayon sa ilan.

Hindi ako kalaban sa paghihiram ng mga salita mula sa mga dayuhang wika: ito na ngayon ang ginagawa ng lahat ng wika libu-libong taon na ang nakalipas.   Mas lalo nan
g hindi ako purista, kahit kung ilan sa aking mga kakilala ay ang tumuturing sa akin bilang iyon.  Gayunpaman, naniniwala ako na dapat mayroon tayong matigas na tuntunin ukol sa paggamit ng wika, at kung saan ang pormal na salita, ang "mataas na salita", ay ang wika ng mga proyekto tulad ng Wikipedia: sinabi rin ni Tinio na karaniwa'y nakakalimutan ng Pilipino na may klasipikasyon ang wika.  May reputasyon ang Wikipedia na dapat panatilihin nito: na ito ay isang ensiklopedya para sa Pilipino, na inalay sa Pilipino para sa kanilang patrimonyo at posteridad, at ito ay dapat ding magsilbi bilang kagamitan para sa pagyaman ng kanilang wika, hindi para lang sa kanilang kumbiniyensiya dahil mas madaling sabihin ang "file" kaysa sa "talaksan".  Hindi ako naniniwala na ang mga salitang huli nating ginamit sa dekada 1940-1960 ay "luma" at dapat nang iwanan sa diksiyonaryo: ito ay isang panawagan sa atin na balikan ang mayamang kasaysayan ng ating wika, na magbalik-tanaw sa yaman ng ating panitikan, at gamitin muli ang mga salitang ito upang makabalik ito sa kamalayan ng mambabasa.  Kapag sinimulan mong gamitin ang isang salita, sa mahabang panahon, lalaganap ito at mauunawaan ng mga tao ano ang ibig sabihin mo.

Naniwala ako dito sa paglikha ng mga patakarang pangwika ng Tagalog Wikipedia.  Dapat lang kontrolado ang paghihiram dahil tulad sa tradisyon ni Lope K. Santos, kayang ilarawan ng wika ang anumang konsepto, kahit kung gaano ka-teknikal o kalalim ito.  Ngunit nawala natin ang diwa ni Ka Lope: ngayon, iniisip natin na ang Filipino ay walang kakayahang magpahiwatig ng kaalaman ukol sa kompyuter, o sa agham, o sa pananalapi (ayon kay dating Pangulong Arroyo), at sa prosesong iyon nawala din natin ang ating kakayahang gumamit ng wika nang hindi umaasa sa Ingles.  Kahit man kung napakalakas ang impluwensiya ni Kris Aquino at ng TV Patrol, na siyang tanging "huwaran" ng Taglish, hindi ibig sabihin niyon na dapat sumasama tayo sa kanila.  Pati ang ating pamahalaan, malugod na itinanggap ang kalagayang ito, hook, line and sinker, sa puntong hindi nito maipatupad ang mandato nito dahil lang pinupulitika ng mga pamantasan ang KWF.

Hindi ito ang katotohanan na dapat nating yakapin.

Kung purista ako, dapat parang Tsino ang turing ko sa Tagalog/Filipino: lahat ay dapat isinasalin.  Dati, noong nagbantay ako sa Tagalog Wikipedia, nabasa ko ang artikulo tungkol sa eroplano.  Namangha ako noong nakita ko ang salin ng Airbus: "Bus na Panghimpapawid".  Gayundin ang Philippine Airlines: "Linyang Panghimpapawid ng Pilipinas" (na maaari, dahil ang "linyang panghimpapawid" ay ang "linéa aerea" ng Espanyol).  Ipinalit ko ito sa nararapat dahil iyan ang mauunawaan ng nakararami.  Kung purista ako, dapat iniwan ko na lang ang mga salin na iyon, na hindi nararapat dahil hindi iyon ang dapat ginagawa natin.  Serbisyo publiko man ang Wikipedia, hindi ibig sabihin niyon na dapat isasalin natin ang lahat nang walang pakundangan.  Dapat balanse ang ating pagtupad sa mandato.

Kaya ano ngayon ang aking pinal na pananaw ukol sa patakarang pangwika ng Tagalog Wikipedia, at sa kalagayan mismo ng ating wikang pambansa?  Nalulungkot ako sa kalagayan ng ating wikang pambansa: hindi nararapat na dapat ito ang magiging wika natin ngayon.  Naniniwala ako na kaakibat natin ang dayuhang wika upang ipayaman ang ating wikang pambansa.  Ngunit hindi ito dapat maging tungkod ng ating wika, na palagiang umaasa dito para lang makakilos sa pandaigdigang diskurso.

Oo, hindi perpekto ang mga patakarang pangwika ng Tagalog Wikipedia.  Alam ko na maaari pa itong baguhin at paunlarin ayon sa diwa ng Wikipedia na lahat tayo ay sama-samang nagpapalaganap ng kaalaman sa buong daigdig.  Ngunit sa panahong ito kung saan nawawala natin ang ating kakayahang gumamit ng wikang pambansa, at kahit man ang mga diyalekto natin, nang hindi kailangang umasa sa Ingles sa bawa't ikatlong salita, naniniwala ako na ito ay ang pinakamabuting opsyon na mayroon tayo.  Inaasahan ko na sa mahabang panahon, babalik ang dangal ng ating wikang pambansa, at ang Wikipedia mismo ang mangunguna sa muling pagsilang ng ating wika bilang wikang ikinasasaya, at hindi ikinahihiya, ng sambayanang Pilipino.

(N.B.: If I'm not lazy, I intend to write an English version of this note in the next few days.  Originally posted on Facebook.)



June 25th, 2011

WARNING: I may be in the Philippines, but allow me to forewarn those readers who may think that I have the gall to comment about a purely "domestic" (a.k.a. "American") issue should have the sense to read my profile.  Thanks.

Anyway, four very good friends of mine posted on Facebook this afternoon the New York Times' article on the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, the Filipino-born,
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post who was sent by his mother in 1993 (when my sister was born) to the United States, unaware at the time that he was entering the U.S. illegally.  The article, at least from my view, is a moving account of how one man, entrusted into the hands of a stranger he had never met, had risked life and limb just so he can make his dream come true.  And while his hard work, determination and resolve paid off, he loomed in the shadows until one day, he took a leap of faith and came clean.

Six pages and over 400 comments (there are 829 and counting) later, I couldn't help but think about his situation, and in turn reflect about how fortunate and grateful I am to have been granted the opportunity to move to the United States legally.

I still remember that unusually cold Tuesday (November 6, 2000), when my mom, my sister and I went inside that very mass of concrete we call NAIA, the same way Mr. Vargas did eight years before.  Like him, I had never left the country, and most especially I had never been inside a big airplane.  It was a frightening experience, as I'd like to quote from the motivation letters I wrote for my Erasmus Mundus Mobility with Asia application:

Since I was a child, I have always been interested in the world beyond my own understanding.  I never really thought back then that there were lands beyond my country’s own shores, and that there would be new peoples, new cultures, and new ideas that I would never be able to experience if I were only in the Philippines.  Ten years ago, despite my pleadings not to go, my family moved to the United States, and I was finally able, for the very first time, to experience sights, sounds, sensations and phenomena that I probably never would have been able to witness back home.   Five years later, after having moved back to the Philippines, I remain grateful for that eye-opening experience.

(It was probably because of this, plus my qualifications, that allowed me to be granted a one-year scholarship to the University of Warsaw in Warsaw, Poland, with which I hope to begin studies this October.)

What exactly were those eye-opening experiences though?  I'm a beach boy, raised with a natural affinity for the Philippines' beautiful beaches, so snow was a completely foreign concept.

I may have watched American TV shows back on that hulking 27-inch RCA television with a bad remote control, but it was only when I was in the U.S. that I found out that Legends of the Hidden Temple and Global Guts were so 1990s, Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue was 3-4 seasons ahead of what was showing in the Philippines, and Cartoon Network/TNT (now Cartoon Network/TCM) were two separate channels, with cartoons still playing late into the night (back when the Philippines had Cartoon Network
/TNT, TNT programming began at 9:00 pm).

I was familiar with McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut, but I didn't even know the quintessential part of any American kid's breakfast/lunch/dinner: the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

Put simply, it was major culture shock.  And to an extent, I can relate with Mr. Vargas: though I came home in 2005 and have only been to the U.S. twice since then (last was in 2008, and I REALLY want to go back for Christmas this year), America is inseparable from me.  I'm not talking about that little blue book which gives me visa-free entry to more places than my family can ever hope for, but rather that the very cultural underpinnings of being American: the work ethic, the drive, the outspokenness, the determination, have all shaped me to become the man I can call my own, and are values which I can no longer part with no matter how many times I try to deny them.

As Carlos Bulosan said before in America Is In the Heart, literally, "America is in the heart".  And once it's there, it can never be removed nor replaced with something else.  It is, perhaps, very much like a tapestry of influences: once stitched, it can never be removed.

But, at the same time, I probably was luckier than most: I had the benefit of deriving citizenship from my mother, as my sister and I did at 11 and 14 respectively, after five years of staying in the U.S.  Granted, my mother married an American, but even he can't be erased from my consciousness, for despite me not wishing to receive double the chores, I realized later on that he was well-intentioned.  In the New York Times article though, people say that he should go back, fall in line, wait for his turn and come back legally, but forget that given the circumstances of his stay, he cannot.  Why, you ask?

  • One must wait ten years before applying for a visa if he/she is deported.  The Philippines is famous for producing some of the world's longest immigrant visa lines, with petitions from as early as 1986 only being heard as recently as 2008 or 2009.
  • Mr. Vargas has falsely claimed citizenship on his IRS tax returns.  Because falsely claiming citizenship is a felony under U.S. law, once deported, he is permanently barred from re-entering the United States.
  • Some say he should apply for an O-1 (extraordinary ability) visa.  However, the O-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa.  There's the EB-1 green card, but it requires him to get at least an H1-B visa, which is difficult to obtain.  And, most especially, as far as I know, visas are unobtainable while inside the United States.
To be put in Mr. Vargas' position is to essentially be stuck between a rock and hard place.  He had no options: he was sent as a kid to the U.S., he found out he was illegally staying in the U.S. when he was a kid, and most especially, he perhaps was forced to conjure up the trail of lies that followed because the other option simply was to be deported without any indication of him possibly being able to come back.  Being a TNT (tago nang tago, the colloquial Filipino term for an illegal alien) is, as far as I know, definitely not easy.

But it begs the question: what direction should American immigration policy align itself to?  I think we need to return to the fundamental purpose of immigrating to the U.S., as what Emma Lazarus wrote in "The New Colossus".  Truly indeed, America beckons to those those tired, those poor, those huddled masses yearning to breathe free, for her lamp shines beside the golden door to the land of boundless opportunity.  But is this the reality of today's immigration debate?  Definitely far from it.

Back then in the time of our ancestors, there was no such thing as legal or illegal immigration.  Freedom of migration then was certainly freer than it is now, and today there is recognition of migration as a basic human right.  Yet, I wonder: should I be mad that Mr. Vargas tried to jump the line, as some other immigrants feel?

I may have earned my citizenship the easy way (or the hard way, depending on how you see it), but I feel that immigration should never be defined by the presence of a visa, or by the documents you possess.  I don't condone illegal immigration myself, but the debate can't simply be defined by the mode of entry.  There are 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, several million of whom live just like him: working hard to make an honest living, but never really being able to make their living truly "honest" simply because America's corpus of immigration law does not work in their favor.  To demand that Mr. Vargas
wait in line would be as much of a travesty as it is an act of "ultimate sacrifice": sure, he can do things rightly, but we must ask ourselves: what if he never gets the chance to come back?  Granted he's a Filipino by birth, but he has so wholeheartedly embraced America that the very thought of "divorcing" himself from her would be a painful endeavor that no one, legal or illegal, would want to endure.  Of course, no one would want to be kicked out from the only land he/she has known, and to play that gambit would be dangerous in itself.

Winnie Monsod famously remarked that (rumored) UP Vanguard prayer (as I posted before) that while we are one, we can do something, and by the grace of God, we can do it.  I trust that perhaps, in another time in life, Mr. Vargas will find peace with his immigration status, and that one day, he can rightfully call himself an American.  While we are obligated to enforce the law, law should be enforced with compassion and consideration.  Too many times have people imposed a blanket definition of an illegal immigrant as one who does nothing for this country without looking at the fine print.  Why deport a man who has done so much for his country, for our country, just because he was brought to America through no fault of his own.  Millions are in the same rut as him, and now we demand that as adults, they should go home, accept th
e ban and apply again?  All right if you're an adult, but it's not that easy if you entered as a kid.  Even moreso that you have to accept a ten-year ban where you'll be forced to rebuild your life again before even having a shot at coming back and doing everything all over.

Perhaps there will be people who will disagree with me.  Fine, I respect that.  But there comes a time where our moral obligation to do the right thing must come before the law.  Too many times we ascribe to the legalism of immigration policy at the expense of the hardworking people who get entangled in the process.  It's too much for people to bear, and the perpetuation of such a system is an injustice to the land which proclaims to be built by immigrants.

I sincerely hope that one day, a solution to the frenetic mess that we call our immigration laws will finally be fixed.  The DREAM Act is supposed to help, but it got shot down in Congress.

Does Jose Antonio Vargas deserve to stay in the United States?  Based on his merit, I'd definitely say he does.  To you, Mr. Vargas, I'd have to wish good luck, Godspeed, and may the powers that be find your favor.  You've worked hard enough, and now you deserve to legally reap the benefits of America's bounty.  Nevertheless, don't forget that you're a Filipino, and that you should be proud of it.  Should you be sent home, your homeland will always welcome you with open arms.

But does the rest of America agree with me?  That's something that I'll have to find out.  And to the millions of Americans with irregular immigration status, I hope you find comfort and peace in the land you willingly call "home", the same way I did so many years ago
.

June 24th, 2011

Promises

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Yes, it's been two months since I've last posted, and as such I will need to promise the following:
  • When I finally have the money, I will rename my account.  Finally, after five long years! :P
  • Afterward, I will change my userpic to something less "dated'.  After all, Sky Harbor the band hasn't been one since 2005-2006, and I need something new to represent the change.
  • Then, I will change the layout.  Something nice.  If you have suggestions, tell me! :)
  • And finally, I will make it a habit to post again.  Seriously, I will post again.  There are too many things in my head which deserve to be written, and so I will take it upon myself to make it happen.
Yes, I can promise a new Sky Harbor.  If only I can try (and have the $15 to change the blog's name). xD

And, as you've noticed, I have begun tagging my posts.  I hope to retroactively tag my posts in the days or weeks to come.

April 13th, 2011

"These dreams are temporary, but their memories are worth their weight in gold." -Jamie's Elsewhere, "Visions in Sleep"

This blog is now over five years old, but every time I decide to return after a long period away, I always find it difficult to commit.  I don't know why, but I feel disconnected from the world around me, and I'm bored, so I am essentially compelled to write.

First of all, 你好!  现在我在中山大学珠海校区学习中文/普通话。我喜欢珠海。太很漂亮了! 
(Basically, hi from Zhuhai, China, where I'm currently studying Mandarin Chinese at Sun Yat-sen University's Zhuhai campus.  I love Zhuhai.  It's very beautiful!)

Anyway, it is here in Zhuhai that several things have happened over the last few days:
  • 我要飞轮海!  For the uninitiated, 飞轮海 is more known in English as Fahrenheit. Thanks to running into 炎亚伦 (Aaron Yan, or 死神少女的沈奇/Shen Qi from the show Gloomy Salad Days) on 百度MP3 (Baidu MP3), I now have a musical base to build on.  I think I'll look to Taiwanese rock bands too. :P
  • Classes are great!  And with a lot of opportunity to practice not just in this campus, but hopefully outside as well.  Haven't bothered to leave the campus on my own yet, though, but I'd love to.  Maybe this weekend. :P
  • I have had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful group of people in the form of the people in our study group and the friends we have made so far. 谢谢你们! :)
It's been almost two weeks, but I feel like this will be a wonderful two months.  Sure, there were hitches, but hopefully they will all work out.  Especially me speaking Chinese. :))

October 11th, 2010

The virtue of one

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Apparently, I'm in my bed this Monday morning of Finals.  It probably helps that I do not have exams today, and I can (supposedly) take a whole day of rest before dealing with my exams tomorrow (first up: POS 100 and Histo).  However, I have papers to write (POS 100 and Sociology), and I'm stuck at home because of some complications with regard to my allowance.  Hopefully I can get my allowance so I can leave already, and so I can finally get those papers done.

Anyway, while I was lying here on my bed, the thought of Winnie Monsod's last lecture at UP Diliman could not escape my mind.  I quoted this lecture last Saturday during POS 60 oral finals and, well, she's right in most regards.



There's this one part though of the lecture that really struck me, and this is what I used to open (and close) my POS 60 oral exams:

I am only one, but I am one
I cannot do everything, but I can do something
What I can do, I ought to do
And with the grace of God, I will do it

Someone on YouTube commented that the quotation above is from a UP Vanguard prayer.  UP friends, please verify for me. :)

It is perhaps poignant to note on my part that whenever someone points out the problems of our country, people often note that instead of talking, we should be doing.  But doing what?  We're encouraged to take a role in nation-building, but then people have the audacity to tell me otherwise when in fact by blogging I am doing my part in building the nation?  When has it been that intellectualizing on the problems of this nation has never been counted as a solution to this country's problems?  We're stuck in our rut precisely because we don't do one thing: talk!

We need to talk about our problems: dig deep into where our problems lie, how far they've gotten and what we can do to play a role in ensuring that our problems do not remain problems forever.  I guess we need to go back to that same adage: "Vision without action is worthless; action without vision is empty."  Unfortunately, we call for action, but without a clear vision to which we need to articulate exactly what we want to achieve.  Visions are not imaginary pictures in one's mind: they are in fact, at least from my point of view, articulations of a social consensus by which we know what to achieve.  And we do not reach this through empty actions.

Perhaps I am a lonely blogger at sea.  But at least I'm in a sea where everyone learns to talk.  And intellectualization is a first step towards action.  I cannot allow my kababayans (countrymen) to take action without a concrete vision of what they want to do.

----

Looks like I'm going to Hong Kong in February! :)

October 5th, 2010

Blocks and bans

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The last time I posted something was on April 7, 2010.  Nearly six months later, now was the only time that I could muster any willpower to post.  Posting something on a blog is now becoming much like some people's experiences on Wikipedia: at first, you're very prolific because you'd like to contribute as much as you can, and then slowly, your edit count drops until you do very mundane things like cleaning up articles and commenting on policies.  It is not, by all means, a perfect world, but you can certainly think that it is.

Anyway, the reason why I'm here today is because of a very puzzling proposition that some bloggers think is fully controlled by virtue of their online fiat: shutting off debate because they feel that his/her commentators are not on his/her side.  Yes, this is about comment screening and comment refusal.

I ran into a blog post named Demolisyon at pansariling interes (Demolition and self-interest) by a certain Jaime de Guzman on a SkyscraperCity discussion on the Quezon City Commercial Business District (QC CBD) project and the associated demolition of Sitio San Roque there at the periphery of EDSA and North Avenue two weeks ago.  The article itself is a good read, I believe.  Yes, we must humanely move the squatters that reside on government-owned land.  Yes, we must give them livelihood.

What I disagree with is the author's utter disregard for what to me seems like perfectly plausible comments supporting demolition, and then shutting down the commentary altogether.  I've seen it before with the 2010 elections, and now I have to witness it happening again.  Look, it is the State's responsibility to ensure the welfare of its citizens, but the State must also be given the authority to draw the line as to where welfare begins and where welfare ends.  For one, it is NOT plausible for the government to meet the squatters' demands to have a high-rise condominium built on prime land for them to reside in: it is simply too expensive.

It is also NOT plausible, and in fact it can be considered downright insulting, for squatters to be choosy as to where they will be relocated.  To be impartial, there are indeed flaws in the system of relocation.  But we have to make do with the system we have.

After all, anong karapatan ba ng iskwater na MANGHUSGA sa kanilang magiging susunod na tirahan? (what right do squatters have to judge where they will be relocated?)  They cannot claim they're too good for Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal: Montalbaleños must feel slighted by them judging them without even being there.

Anong karapatan ba ng iskwater na PAG-LIITIN ang kapakanan ng mga komyuter? (What right do these squatters have to belittle the plight of commuters?)  It takes me 1-2 hours to get home, and I commute.  Heck, I take trains (LRT, MRT and PNR), jeeps, buses, tricycles, pedicabs, multicabs, shuttle vans, FXs, taxis, you name it and I can claim with authority that I've been on it.  But to see squatters belittling commuters because they complain that their future residences will be too far from their workplaces is an insult to the entire commuting population: the daily grind of my Makati-Ateneo commute is one that I have to deal with, and now they want to be pampered with in-city relocation?  Please.

I'll probably never be completely privy to the events that unfolded at Sitio San Roque.  But these squatters have essentially expressed their desire to hostage the rest of Manila should their demands not be met: barricading EDSA and causing horrendous traffic northbound from Ortigas to North Avenue surely must not have generated sympathy for them.  They better be prepared to defend their case: what they did was not bad-ass, but rather was a complete insult to the entire system of social welfare that each and every Filipino pays for.  Beggars (pun intended) CANNOT be choosers.

It is this where I must address the ban issue.  After 47 comments, the author decides to close all commenting (post is in Filipino), allegedly because he believes that the comments supporting the demolition are, in my interpretation, a manifestation of this supposedly "elitist" way of thinking.  I don't deny I'm well-off, and I believe the squatters should be moved humanely, but to defend their "right" to squat because they lack opportunity is an affront to every hardworking non-elite Filipino who fought tooth-and-nail to ensure that they have every opportunity to make it in this world.  HINDI RESPONSIBILIDAD NG PAMAHALAAN NA BEYBIYIN ANG MGA ISKWATER UPANG IPAGKALAAN SILA NG OPORTUNIDAD.  DAPAT NAMAN MAY MODO SILA NA LUMABAN PARA LANG SILA RIN AY MAGKAROON NG OPORTUNIDAD! (It is not the responsibility of the government to baby these squatters to give them opportunity.  They should at least have the decency to fight so that they can also have opportunity!)

At the very least, as a free culture advocate (de Guzman's blog is CC-licensed, but CC-BY-NC-ND, which by Wikimedia's standards, and by extension my standards, is not free), at least have the decency to be transparent, and have the iron to defend your post.  Shunning comments and preferring private conversation only shows that you, or anyone who chooses to filter comments, flag them as spam or ban commenting altogether, are a wuss.  If you think a comment should not be commented on, then don't comment on it!

After all, in any blogging community, debate and conversation are paramount.  Even if the comment sounds or looks inappropriate.

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Just a few things happening here from Matteo Ricci Down:

*I'm buying "The Future of Ear Repair" by Faspitch on iTunes, partially because the album is not available in music stores for some reason, and partially because I didn't know iTunes had the album on sale.  Thanks to Sean de Dios (Fil 14 classmate) for this one, as your iTunes library is free for sharing. =))
*I'm drowning in papers.  POS 51 is done, POS 60 is being written, and SA hopefully this weekend.
*I can text again, thanks to a lent Nokia N95 from Uncle Jaivic.  I miss my HTC Desire! :((
*Finally, something important: starting today, October 5, 2010, all content in this blog is now licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Philippines License. :b

April 7th, 2010

Sacrifices

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It looks like I will not be taking other classes this summer.  Sad, because I wanted to take Fil 14 and History.

All because I will be gone for four days for the Wikimedia Conference 2010 in Berlin, and the Ateneo only allows for most subjects a total of three cuts from class, whether excused or unexcused.

Oh well.  Looks like my load just got a bit lighter.

March 29th, 2010

Prom queen

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Firstly, I am currently in Singapore on "vacation".  It's nice to be with my aunt before she moves to Dubai, and it's nice that I got to fly Singapore Airlines coming here, courtesy of my mom.  Well, I need to earn Delta miles which could expire if I don't earn any this year (Delta and SIA are partners until May 15, which is good for me).  That's certainly very undesirable.

Anyway, I've been music-hunting on AMP (Channel V's so-called "Asian Music Platform"), which features bands and artists from all over east and southeast Asia.  I am in a very desperate situation where I really need to buy some new music.  As with regards to how my music-tripping came so far, here's a preview:

* I got to listen to some songs from Tokio Hotel's "Humanoid" on the flight to Singapore, but apparently, Krisworld only has the German version, not the English one (I did get to listen to "Automatic" on YouTube though)
* I did some music-hunting at two music stores, to no avail (the first one was at Vivocity; the second was at Suntec City Mall)
* Now, with AMP

I did run into three very promising bands which I will try to hunt for in Singapore (otherwise, I will go to Kuala Lumpur or Johor Bahru to do so).  I will however focus for now on one band: Malaysia's Bunkface (the other two are Hong Kong's Innisfallen and Indonesia's Killing Me Inside).

One of a multitude of Malaysian bands without a Wikipedia article (the two bands which I know have are One Buck Short and Pop Shuvit, arguably Malaysia's top rock exports, and very good bands in their own right), I did encounter Bunkface while watching Channel V a few months ago (maybe even as far back as early 2009), watching the music video to "Silly Lily".  As I was randomly checking out previous chart listings on AMP, I ran into them again, where one of their latest singles, "Prom Queen", was number four in the charts.

I really wish the Philippines has more punk rock bands which go mainstream.  It would be a definite relief from the current crop of bands which we have, and the general anemic offerings of Philippine music stores.

But there's one thing that I'm sure of: if I find a Bunkface album with the prerequisite songs ("Silly Lily", "Bunk Anthem" and "Prom Queen"), I will definitely buy it without hesitation. :D

Anyway, I'll go continue listening to more of them on AMP and YouTube.  So you can join in, here's "Prom Queen".


March 9th, 2010

Wrong timing

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It's 6:30 am and you just boarded the very cold PNR train headed for Tutuban.  It's a nice experience being inside; it feels as if you just woke up and you're back in your bed, pondering on what to do for the day.  People are lined up, either sitting on the bright orange benches which line the sides of the train, or are holding onto the handles attached to the train's handrails.  It's a nice feeling, waking up and starting a new day.

That is, unless you hear PNR Radio (my term for the music played by the drivers on PNR trains) blaring out "Tik Tok" by Kesha that early in the morning.  The song, catchy as it is, is bereft of substance, and does not make for a very good morning.  At least it moves to a more palatable song: "Nobody" by the Wonder Girls.

Oh well.  That is why God invented the iPod.

(For some odd reason, whenever I listen to "Fireflies" by Owl City on YouTube here on an Ateneo computer, the videos have no vocal tracks.  Weird.  I may watch him though at his concert in Trinoma later this month.)

(EDIT: Apparently, it has something to do with the way the earphones are inserted.  Even weirder.  Haha.)

March 8th, 2010

Aiming

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Because of certain events which took place today, I finally got a Formspring.  Feel free to shoot at http://www.formspring.me/akiestar.  Or not.  Haha.

Time to go back to life! :P
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